A notice to the centre has been issued by the Delhi High court on Wednesday on a PIL seeking a direction to evolve a new plan of revival of Super Bazaar, the city’s first chain of departmental stores.
The Notice has issued by the division bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice Jayant Nath to the ministries of Consumer Affairs, Agriculture through the central registrar, cooperation official liquidator and Writers and Publishers which purchased the Super Bazaar from the government and sought their replies by July 31.
The court’s order came on a PIL filed by Ram Gopal Sisodia, an ex-MLA, seeking revival of Super Bazaar which introduced the concept of shopping under one roof at an affordable prices.
Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Prashant Bhushan argued and prayed for quashing of the central government’s decision to sell a majority stake of 73 percent in Super Bazaar Cooperative Society to Writers and Publisher which is a private company.
“Quash the order of July 7, 2009 of the central registrar whereby amendments to the bye-laws of the Super Bazaar were allowed by him as the same were de-hors (outside the scope of) the provisions of the Multi State Cooperatives Act, 2002,” according to the PIL.
The government had in its July, 2009, order sold its 73 percent shares to Writers and Publishers with a condition to revive Super Bazaar in Rs 1.16 crores.
“The rate (Rs. 1.16 crores) at which Super Bazaar was sold to the private company was the rate prevailing in the year 1966 when the society started and it was sold at a less value after the financial irregularities and illegalities were committed by its officials,” mentioned in the PIL.
It further sought a direction to the Centre “to evolve a new plan of revival of Super Bazaar without changing its nature of being a cooperative society as envisaged under Multi State Cooperative Act.”
Super Bazaar Society was converted into Multi State Co-operative Society under Multi State Co-operative Society Act in 1996.
The plea also added that Super Bazaar has been left in the hands of private companies which do not even have any expertise to run a co-operative society or have never been into retail business.
As per the PIL, Super Bazaar had come into existence in 1966 as consumer co-operative stores. The main purpose for constituting the same was to provide to consumers quality daily use products at the cheaper rates.
It had more than 155 retails outlets. The Bazaar was being run on ‘no-profit-no-loss’ basis. For almost three decades, Super Bazaar was having huge profits, the plea added.
The petition said Super Bazaar at that time was having more than 40,000 members and 2,200 employees and the central government was also one of its members with 73.84 percent shares in the society.
“Till the year 1996, Super Bazaar was making a huge turnover by selling quality products to its customers at competitive prices. The downfall of Super Bazaar started in the year 1997 when S S Dhuri and Surender Gandhi were appointed as Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively along with three other persons who represented the central government in the society.”
These persons had committed financial irregularities and illegalities and diverted more than 19 crores, it alleged, adding this resulted in closer of Super Bazaar in 2002 and sincere efforts were never made at the government’s end to revive it.